Award winning Torchlight is a fantasy-themed, action, role-playing game similar in style to a classic dungeon crawler. RPG's are not a genre I've actively pursued as I entertain the notion that generally there's more time invested in fiddling around in your skill trees than in playing. For me, Torchlight proved borderline in this regard and at times, having to decide which armor, which spell, which trinket, which gem and which upgrade to choose felt more like a chore than fun. However, I know there are many people who are big fans of this genre and Torchlight has enough variety of elements to make it enjoyable to those who prefer other types of games. Besides, these days, many games listed as RPGs are in fact a hybrid between this genre and the action genre; a circumstance that has caused divided opinion on the future of pure RPGs. However, as a marketing ploy, I suppose hitting a cross section of fan bases might be a smart business move.
The game is set in the mining town of Torchlight, which your character must save from a fate worse than death. As it happens, the mysterious ore called Ember is having a corrupting influence on the population and your character must seek out the source of this corruption in the floors of the mine. In addition, exploration will take you into castles and port you into secret chambers. It's not much of a plot, but a plot nonetheless.
There are three characters available to choose from and being a shooter fan, I naturally steered toward the Vanquisher, the gal with the gun. The other choices are the Destroyer or the Alchemist - each having differing abilities that will determine your choice of weapons and skills. You can also choose either a cat or a dog as your constant companion, a feature of the game that adds a great amount of appeal. In addition there's a compliment of spells available which can be upgraded. My particular favorite was the skeleton sidekicks as I found myself becoming quite attached to the little fellows. Portals at preset points or spells allow you to travel back and forth to town to sell and buy inventory items or to take on extra missions for reward.
Another little fun quirk is the fishing holes that yield an array of pet food capable of transforming your little darling into various creatures for a specified time. Each type of fish gives your pet a specific ability and you must determine which works best against each type of enemy. Your pet cannot die, but he can be put out of commission until his health recovers. When your inventory becomes too full, he can be sent back to town at any time to sell it for gold.
After the main mission of saving the town of Torchlight is finished, you can enter the Shadow vault, which is basically an endless recycling of the same scenery with some minor variances. At the writing of this, it was yet to be discovered just how many floors there are in the vault, but it seems to be endless. I think you will get bored long before you've discovered them all. This is the only part of the game that ends up being senseless in my opinion. The only other beef I have is that the many hours spent making decisions on the skill trees netted little advantage, as the enemy skills seemed to upgrade equally.
At any time after the main mission, you can retire your character and try another one on for size. There are two stashes in town and you will be able to carry forward one of them to be accessed by your new character, so be sure to stash some character appropriate stuff if you intend to replay.
The graphics are appealing and the controls easy as pie, all of the above lending themselves to a decent enough experience to put Torchlight on your list. The mouse controls all movement and I'll warn you that it involves frantic clicking. My mouse burnt out shortly after this and I'm convinced that this game contributed to its demise.
At the moment, Torchlight is a single-player game, but the developer, Runic Games, plans to release an online multiplayer free-to-play version within the next two years. Torchlight has also been designed to allow mods, so you may want to hop over to Runic Games and see what's new. They also have a few videos so you can get a feel for the game.UPDATE: Torchlight never did get multi-player, but it is included in Torchlight 2.